Historic Folk Toys: Craft, 'Spoon Doll Kit'

Historic Folk Toys: Craft, 'Spoon Doll Kit'

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Spoon Doll Kit
Our Spoon Doll Kit includes a 4-inch wooden spoon, fabric for dress and arms, needle, floss for sewing, yarn for hair, stuffing, instructions, and history. This is a popular American colonial doll craft for girls of all ages. This kit is also a nice project for colonial museum workshops, Girl Scout groups, elementary school classrooms, or for a parent-child activity. The cute little doll also looks great in a seasonal wreath or as part of a table decoration.

Historical Background: Colonial mothers made dolls for their daughters from a variety of items that were available around the homestead. A wooden spoon featured a ready-made head for a doll, which could be adorned with paint for the face and hair, or with yarn for hair, or with fabric for a bonnet. The body was formed around the handle of the spoon and was probably made in numerous designs because each mother worked with items that were available to her. If the mother had a little extra time and the supplies, she might make arms, and legs and use lace. If time was pressing, she might just wrap fabric around the handle in a way that it looked like a dress. For a young colonial girl, any doll was special.

The first spoons were probably made from seashells or stones. The history of the spoon might have begun in Egypt around 1000 B.C. when a utensil was needed for ointments. Other research suggests spoons were used as an eating utensil during Paleolithic times (750,000-15,000 years ago). Prehistoric people used shells or chips of wood as spoons. They may have fastened a stick to the shell in order to reach for liquids.

The English Celts used wooden spoons during the Iron Age (circa 250 B.C.), which is confirmed by a small ladle discovered at archeological excavations at the Glastonbury Lake Village. Wooden spoons have actually been recovered from 10th-century oak buildings at Viking York (now Coppergate, England).

During the Middle Ages (5th century to 15th century A.D.), it would have been customary for a host to provide a guest with a spoon made from wood or horn. A spoon was sometimes the only worldly possession an individual had, and it was common for a person to will their spoon to their heir when he or she died.

The Greek and Latin words for spoon are derived form the word "cochlea" which means "spiral-shaped snail shell." This suggests that shells were commonly used as spoons. The Anglo-Saxon word for spoon is "spon," which means "a splinter or chip of wood."

From inventory records, we know that the early Jamestown settlers brought wooden spoons to the New World. Native Americans whittled wooden spoons from laurel wood and sold them to the early settlers. Because the blunted knives imported from England around 1630 were hard to eat with, the colonists began using a spoon to steady their meat while cutting it. The early practice of eating with a knife involved a very sharp one or possibly two (this was before forks were invented), one to hold the meat and the other to cut up the food.

All colonists, rich and poor, used wooden utensils for nearly the first century they inhabited North America. Some wealthy families were able to procure metal utensils before the 1700s. All colonial kitchens were sure to have a wooden spoon, as this was a significant tool, along with wooden bowls, trenchers, and tankards. Even after metal knives, forks, and spoons were in common use, no kitchen was without a wooden spoon.

In Wales, a spoon was carved and given to a woman who was about to be married. She would hang this spoon on her wall as a message that she was "taken." The word "spooning" comes from the giving of a wooden spoon, usually carved, to the intended. Her suitor might carve a heart-shaped spoon which meant "I love you." A key-shaped spoon meant "You hold the key to my heart." A bell-shaped spoon meant "Let's get married." A wheel-shaped spoon meant "I will work hard for you." The carved wooden spoon given to a newly married woman was called a "love spoon." Some of the other patterns carved into a spoon had special meanings, such as a chain (a wish to be together forever), diamond (wealth or good fortune), cross (faith), flower (affection), and dragon (for protection).

In recent times, some brides have carried a wooden spoon tied with ribbons and flowers along with their wedding bouquets. Since a wooden spoon was absolutely one of the most useful items a newly married woman could have, a female friend would usually give the gift. The bride's mother, sister, and friends would make sure to provide her with the necessary kitchen utensils to "set up house."

Wooden spoons have been a common item throughout history and in nearly all cultures because most artisans could carve spoons and they were inexpensive to make. Is there a wooden spoon in your kitchen?

Fun Fact: Many sailors carved wooden spoons during long voyages.

Fun Fact: A wooden spoon was listed as a necessary item for cake baking in the 1894 edition of "White House Cookbook" by Ziemann and Gillette.

Fun Fact: Stainless steel utensils were invented in the 1920s.

Fun Fact: The earliest "love spoon" found (so far) is displayed in the Welsh Folk Museum in Cardiff and is dated around 1667.

PACKAGE DIMENSIONS - 5 x 5.5 x 1.5"